By M. Keith Hudson, Wildlife Biologist
Wildlife organizations interested in bird conservation across North America are flocking together…so to speak. A new effort to study, manage and conserve our continent’s birds is bringing together a partnership of state, federal, private and academic organizations to study, manage and conserve birds. These efforts are called “Joint Ventures” (JV).
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) defines JVs as “a self-directed partnership of agencies, organizations, corporations, tribes or individuals that has formally accepted the responsibility of implementing national or international bird conservation plans within a specific geographic area or for a specific taxonomic group and has received general acceptance in the bird conservation community for such responsibility.” Working both collectively and independently, JV partners conduct activities in support of bird conservation goals cooperatively developed by each partnership.
Rather than divide the country along political boundaries (like states or counties), JV boundaries are divided by broad habitat types important to the particular birds found within them. These are called Bird Conservation Regions or “BCRs.” In the United States, Canada and Mexico, 67 BCRs encompass deserts, mountains, forest systems and tundra – all the major continental habitat types.
Alabama is incredibly rich in its diversity of birds and the habitats they occupy. Land within the state contains parts of five separate BCRs. They are the East Gulf Coastal Plain, the Gulf Coast, the Central Hardwood, the Appalachian Mountain, and Piedmont Joint Ventures. Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Section wildlife biologists actively participate with other natural resource organizations within each BCR.
In coming years, it is expected that much will be done to conserve Alabama’s birds via Joint Venture efforts, as many conservation organizations work cooperatively. Joint Venture partners help one another – birds of a feather, flocking together.